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Jesus

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. Luke 1:35

Dear God,

I wanted to write to you today and thank you for the amazing gift you gave me and all of humanity.  It was so thoughtful of you to think of us!  I really wasn’t expecting something so wonderful and life giving!  

I am of course, writing to thank you for Jesus.  For that little baby you breathed into Mary thousands of years ago.  For that little child who grew to be a powerful yet quiet man.  God clothed in skin who experienced all the hardships, joys, temptations, love, frustrations and miracles you have blessed this world with.  

I’m so sorry, however, that your Son had to also experience the pain of our sin.  When I think of His last days it brings me so much sadness.  Your gift to us was so beautiful and we destroyed it with a vengeance.  And yet you still love us.  So much so you raised up that gift of Jesus for awhile to teach us a few more lessons before He went home to you.

Heavenly Father, we are entering into a season that should be all about the gift of your Son, Jesus.   Help us, through your Holy Spirit, to remember that little baby, that man, who gave so much in order to cleanse us of our sins.  

Today, oh God, I’m so thankful for the salvation your Son brought to those of us who pronounce Him King of our lives.  Your gracious and mercy-filled gift to us is all we ever need.  I know this small note of thankfulness can never repay you for your kindness.  I look forward to seeing you one day so that I can thank you in person.

Your loving servant,

Kris 

I hope you have enjoyed these 30 Days of Thankfulness! I’m taking some time off from the blog to enjoy this most wonderful time of the year! God bless and Merry Christmas!

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The Bible

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Luke 24:44

As I’ve progressed in the study of the Bible, I’ve learned that the entire Bible teaches us about one subject – Jesus.  From beginning to end Jesus appears.  He is part of the creation team, the angel of the Lord speaking to Hagar, the prophecy of Isaiah, and so much more.  So, when Jesus, after His resurrection, reminds the disciples that His death fulfilled all that the Old Testament taught us we should be spurred to investigate further.

He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Luke 24:46-47

You can buy a Bible that only includes the New Testament.  But that would be like getting dropped into the middle of a battle not knowing why it started and which side you should be on!  And while there are so many great lessons and the message of salvation in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John the full weight of those gifts lies in the cornerstones set in Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Isaiah and more.

It’s believed the first book of the Bible written was Job, around 2000 BC. After that the 10 Commandments and then the Book of the Law were placed in the Ark of the Covenant around 1000 BC.  The New Testament books were written about 50 AD.   Emperor Constantine commissioned the Codex Vaticanus, considered the original entire Bible, in 312 AD.  And in 1381, John Wycliffe defied church authority and began translating the Bible into English and distributing handwritten books to laypeople.  With the advent of the printing press in 1455, the Bible began its journey to being one of the most popular books ever printed.

I’m so thankful God took His Word and through man put it in this book we call the Bible.  With it we can learn about His character, His promises and fulfillment of them, His expectations, His plans for us.  My Bible sat for years gathering dust, not respecting its long history and those who died to make it accessible to all.  It seemed unwieldy and confusing.  Through the work of the Holy Spirit, teachers and the fellowship of Christians I’ve come to see the beautiful story, the amazing truth of Jesus, Son of God.  The Bible is a living document, one which grows with us as we dig deeper into our faith.

Today on this great day of Thanksgiving in the United States I want to spur you to open your Bible.  To read the history of our broken world.  To read the entire, true story of a God who loves us.  Of a God who never leaves us.  Of a God who promises to deliver us from our sins.  Of a God who sent His son to be sacrificed so that we will be brought home, cleaned and forgiven.

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Listen Up!

Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 
John 5:25

Today’s Fresh Fire is our last in this series.  It’s been a great adventure finding and studying verses that have helped me bolster my faith.  I hope these verses have helped your faith journey as well!

The idea of hearing the voice of God makes me think of my dog, Tucker.  When he was just a puppy, I made a commitment to train him much differently than our previous dog.  When my other dog was a puppy, I also had two small children to train.  And the dog was the last to get my attention!  So, with Tucker I’ve made it a point to make him into a good walking dog.  At this point in his training, he walks with a e-collar rather than a leash.

There were a few training goals which my husband poo-poo’d at the time.  One, that Tucker be trained to only chase rabbits when I allowed it.  And two, to only cross the street when he received our approval.  When my friends walk with me and Tucker they know that at each street corner we must stop, look both ways and proceed.  Tucker, even while walking slightly ahead of me, will sit at each corner and wait for me.  A training feat accomplished!

But what does this have to do with the voice of God?  You see, my real goal with Tucker was to help him not get hit by a car if say, he were to be in the front yard with me while off leash.  So, when we approached a corner and a car was passing by, even if it was going parallel to us, I made him wait.  I associated not only the changing texture of the surface he was on but also the sound of cars with his need to wait.

And I can almost swear he now looks both ways, looking and listening for cars.  He has learned to listen to something outside his little doggie mind before he can proceed safely.

Isn’t that what God wants from us?  To be so well trained to listen for Him that we don’t proceed until we hear what He wants of us?

And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat.
Ezekiel 3:1

Throughout this series through verse after verse we have heard that to stay close to God we must pray, read His Word and listen through silent mediation.  And the Bible shows us so many ways which God will speak to us – dreams, visions (like with Ezekiel), burning bushes, through others, signs, and the written word.  If we aren’t listening to all His ways then how can we ever expect to cross the street safely?  To move forward in our lives along His preferred path?

When Jesus made the statement in our verse today, He is telling us to listen up!  To pay close attention!  He tells us that a time is coming where when we hear His voice again it’s resurrection time.  For those who hear His Word and turn to Him for the first time, that resurrection might mean tomorrow.  Their dead souls come to live in new life.  For others it will be when the believers are raised from the dead and enter into God’s glorious eternity.  While still others will be resurrected and judged harshly.

But if we aren’t listening for Him, what will we miss out on?  We miss the opportunity to be made righteous.  We miss the opportunities to enjoy peace and grace and forgiveness right now.

This thing I know, that when I have neither heard nor read, I have yet felt the voice of God within me, and the Spirit has, himself, revealed some dark mystery, opened some secret, guided me into some truth, given me some direction, led me in some path, or in some other way has immediately spoken to me himself; and I believe it is so with every man at conversion;

Charles Spurgeon, The Majestic Voice

I was at my first women’s Bible retreat and we were challenged to go find a quiet place to talk with God.  I found myself at a rustic, outdoor chapel of sorts.  As I sat in prayer, I laid my heavy heart out for God.  My constant prayer at the time was to help me find peace and a lightness of spirit.  I felt so heavy with burdens.  As I finished my prayer a flock of tiny birds flew directly in front of me from one side of the chapel to another.  As they raced each other along their path they chirped loudly at each other – a flock of children laughing and squealing in some unseen game.  The landed in a tree just above me and kept up their heavenly laughter.  And I laughed along with them.

I realized immediately it was God snapping His fingers at me to say, “Wake up! There is joy to be had all around you! You see, even my tiny birds, who have only themselves, this tree and this moment are filled with laughter.  You have so much more that I have given you!”

The voice of God is everywhere.  It’s in us.  He fills our dreams.  He thunders with each storm and crashing wave.  He gently rocks us to sleep with the croaking frogs.  He loves us with the cooing of a baby.  He runs laughing with us while getting that kite up in the air.  To truly hear Him, to listen to what He has to say today, we just need a bit of practice and some well-planned training.  The next time you find yourself needing to cross a proverbial street in your life take a moment to listen. He will guide you safely across.

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Amazing Presence

As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”

Luke 24:16-26


Depending on how Messianic scholars classify the prophesies in the Old Testament about the coming of Jesus, you will find between 200 and more than 400 statements about the Son of God becoming a man to teach us and be our ultimate sacrifice.  Given that information, which was taught throughout the Jewish faith, you have to wonder why anyone at the time of Jesus’ death didn’t understand what was going on.  It shouldn’t have been a surprise that He would also be resurrected.  Yet disciple after disciple, woman and man, we see either their disbelief or shocking amazement when Jesus stood with them after His death.

But we can’t be too hard on those people of old.  I mean we have 1,000s of years of Bible study, the hindsight of the entire New Testament, and more Bible scholars and preachers than we could ever count explaining the connections and the truths of this amazing story.  And yet so many of us, even Christians, have a hard time truly accepting that Jesus is with us, even today.  He stands in front of us with an open hand almost pleading with us to surrender and follow Him.  He stands next to us, holding our hand, as we take scary, daring steps of faith.  And He stands watch over us guiding and protecting us.  When we fully accept that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, we can feel His constant, amazing presence.

I heard a sermon the other day by Joyce Meyer called, “What is Faith?”  In it she encourages those whose families are grown and left the nest, who have lost spouses, who feel as though no one loves them, to grasp on to the knowledge that Jesus is ever-present in our lives.  He is with us when we go to the grocery store.  He is with us when we sit and watch a sunset.  He is with us when we lie down, alone, in our beds.  

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

John 18:22-23

When we read the verses today in Luke 24, we might gloss over the fact that Jesus had already died.  What happened on that road to Emmaus could have just as easily been written today.  There was nothing special about the two men to which Jesus appeared.  They are you and me.  We can leave church or a Bible study waxing philosophical about the amazing presence of Jesus “way back when” and completely miss that He is walking right there with us!  

I once heard a woman in a Bible study say to the group, “How come God doesn’t talk to us like He did in the Bible?”  I found it fascinating that this person has somehow missed the prolific authors who have received urgings and messages from the Holy Spirit.  She somehow has ignored all the testimonials she has heard in church from people who have been miraculously saved.  She somehow missed my own telling, to that very group, of my Jesus vision.

“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” 

John 4:48

Are you ignoring Jesus’ amazing, constant presence?  Has he walked along with you, sat at your dinner table and you didn’t acknowledge it was Him?  Are you looking for a burning bush outside your door to speak in a Charlton Heston-esque voice to make decisions for you?  I’m not saying that won’t happen but Jesus’ character is a lot more quiet and gentle.  He wants you to have the “ah ha moment” like the men in our story today.  He leads you, tiny step by step to clearing the mud from your eyes and ears.  And if you will only accept the burning bush as “proof” of His presence you will surely miss Him along the path.